UK talks to go on with or without Bush

| 05/09/2008

(CNS): The Leader of the Opposition, McKeeva Bush has not responded to the government’s correspondence regarding its request for discussions prior to the start of the UK Constitutional Talks, the Leader of Government Business has said. Kurt Tibbetts told the media that he would not allow Bush to abort the process. “If he chooses not to participate the talks are going to continue,” said Tibbetts. “We cannot fall in line with his wishes.”

Speaking at the post cabinet weekly press briefing the LoGB said that he had seen in the local press that that the Leader of the Opposition, wants more time before he engages in discussions with the government, so he could spend two more weeks talking to people in the districts. Tibbetts said that he had written to Bush requesting a meeting on Monday 8 September, where the two sides could try to close the gaps on differences on the Constitutional Modernisation Process, before sitting down with the UK delegation.

“This is obviously a delaying tactic. We launched this process on 12 January of this year. We have asked on more than one occasion for him to come to the table. He has called me an ass because it didn’t suit him,” said Tibbetts. “Of course I haven’t said that I am going to sue him. But it is almost nine months since we started this process and he now chooses. At this point in time, to say it is going to take him two weeks to go to the districts and he has had all of this time to do this.”

Tibbetts indicated that he still wished the opposition to engage in the process but the ball was in Bush’s court and the constitutional talks will proceed. He also noted that if Bush does not meet with the government before the scheduled FCO talks in the last week of this month he would not be excluded but it would mean the process would not be seamless and it would be risky, if the British government hears a confused message. “He just wants to delay and confuse the issue because he is not running the show,” Tibbetts added.

Bush has persistently stated however, that the opposition should have been given the same financing, resources and expert advice, such as the services of a constitutional lawyer, like Professor Jeffery Jowell, or access to a Constitutional Secretariat, as the government had during the discussion process. The Leader of the Opposition has also consistently said that the United Democratic Party will not move on certain issues. He told CNS recently that he disagreed fundamentally with proposals to reduce the Governor’s powers and removing the Attorney General from the Legislative Assembly.

 “When the UK delegation of MPs came here they were quite shocked to discover the government had spent so much on special advisors and a secretariat and that the opposition had not been offered the same resources,” said the Leader of the Opposition adding that if the LoGB was genuine he should make sure that the opposition has the resources to establish what the people really want. “We still need to talk to the people before we can begin negotiations because we need to do everything we can to find out what it is the people want in their constitution.”

As far as the LoGB’s timeline is concerned, Bush told Cayman Net News this week that he was not interested and he would be talking to the people until next week. “We intend to have public meetings, talking to the people of this country, and we’ve got to go to every district,” he said. “It’s goingto take at least two weeks.”




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